Evan Galloway, in his third year at Saint Sebastian’s Catholic High School, is told to “write what you know” for his college-application essays. But it’s what he doesn’t know that is haunting him.
“It’s funny how perfectly life splits into before and after,” Evan says. Before his father killed himself, home life was pretty normal—Campbell’s soup casseroles, Monopoly tournaments, building model airplanes and Dad falling asleep in the leather chair. Now there’s a hole in that life that can’t be filled or explained. Evan takes on a quest for answers: What is God’s plan? Why didn’t his father stick around to see what Evan would become? Just as Evan’s first-person narrative begins to feel awash in angst, he finds his father’s journal, and the story becomes compelling, as answers to questions slowly surface. With his friend Alexis, Evan goes “Dad-excavating.” His digging for answers “let[s] the dragon out of the cave,” though, as troubling information unfolds about his father’s school life, his job as an altar boy and Father Fran’s unusual interest in offering private art lessons. Parlato’s debut novel, many years in the making, is a painstaking dissection of a father’s past and its reverberations in his son’s life.
A memorable, disturbing story, carefully wrought. (Fiction. 14 & up)